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California’s ‘Green’ Energy Policies Are Driving Residents into Poverty

September 4, 2019
By Ronald Stein

California's energy policies are pushing more of the state's residents into poverty and is contributing to its homelessness crisis.

The green movement has done a great job of stymying the growth of nuclear power generation, which is perverse because nuclear is the only technology known to generate zero emission electricity on a continuous, uninterruptable basis.

Following up on the success the green movement has had in shutting down the nuclear industry, it has now set its sights on oil. “Big Green’s” public pressure campaigns have recently begun to have success in “encouraging” large oil companies to invest huge sums in renewable electric power sources, primarily wind and solar.

There are three main reasons “Big Oil” is investing in renewables.

First, it is a great public relations move. Second, it is also a fantastic business investment, as wind and solar facility is intermittent, requiring backup fossil fuel plants to provide electricity when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shinning and to regulate the flow of power from renewables when they are functioning. Third, federal and state governments subsidize renewable development, and if the facilities fail, the government incentives are “no take back” guarantees and the loss becomes a tax write-off—basically allowing oil companies to dabble in renewable investments for free.

Blind to True Costs

California is seemingly going green at any cost, and as a result the state is driving up the populations of the homeless and those falling below the poverty line. Those leading the green parade are either blind to this fact or just don’t care.

Wind- and solar-obsessed Australia, Denmark, and Germany fight it out for the honor of paying the world’s highest power prices. Contrary to what California would have the world believe, the state is following, not leading, into known disastrous territory. Just as in Australia, Denmark, and Germany, California’s political class fails to see the direct correlation between energy costs for electricity and fuels and the rise of homelessness and poverty.

Efficient energy systems reduce costs for everything—not just electricity and transportation but also the cost of cleaning supplies, electronics, groceries, and heavy machinery. For the working class, after fuel and electricity costs, what’s left in the purse, if anything remains, goes toward other living expenses. California’s energy diktats are leaving less and less money for those expenses.

High Prices Going Higher

California’s electricity prices are already 50 percent higher than the national average for residents and double the national averages for commercial and industrial users. These costs are projected to rise even more.

The inability of wind and solar to replace continuously operating uninterrupted power from nuclear and natural gas plants is causing the state to import more and more of its electricity. California imported 29 percent of its electric power last year. The good news is the state suffered no brownouts (for once). The bad news is the imported electricity comes at a higher price tag being borne by residents and businesses alike. With the huge land requirements necessary for wind and solar renewable electricity, and already high land values, California will have to import more energy every year.

Not Using Domestic Sources

California has plenty of oil and natural gas, both on- and offshore, but its Democrat politicians block access to these resources despite the state’s high demand. California increased its crude oil imports from foreign countries from 5 percent in 1992 to 57 percent in 2018, costing the state more than $32 billion dollars per year.

That money is being paid to oil-rich foreign countries and being denied to in-state producers, thereby depriving Californians of jobs and business opportunities. Partly as a result of this, the state’s coffers are growing thin as the government struggles to pay its retirement, social responsibility, and welfare debts.

Adding insult to injury, Democrats in Sacramento are seriously considering Assembly Bill A.B. 345, which would require all new oil and gas development not on federal land to be located at least 2,500 feet from any residence, school, childcare facility, playground, hospital, or health clinic, beginning January 1 of next year. The bill would also redefine previously existing wells that had been plugged and abandoned, but later reopened, as new oil and gas development and require them to be relocated and re-drilled to comply with the clear-space requirement.

The 2,500-foot clear-space requirement for new or reopened production wells would virtually destroy California’s in-state oil production, cutting it in half. This would result in California sending another $16 billion on top of the current $32 billion every year (again, yes, that’s a “b”), to those oil-rich foreign countries.

Beyond Regulations, Taxes

Adding insult to injury, starting on July 1 the state imposed an additional six cents per gallon in gas taxes to the posted price for gasoline at the pump, supposedly to be dedicated to road infrastructure repair and maintenance. With residents already paying as much as a dollar per gallon in fuel taxes, California should already have the nation’s best roads.

With its green crusade, California is doing everything within its power to increase the costs of electricity and fuel, virtually guaranteeing growing homelessness, poverty, and demands for government welfare.

As homeless camps expand on California’s city streets from the Oregon state line in the north all the way to the Mexican border in the south, it’s scary the state’s leaders fail to realize the regressive impact their fossil fuel phobia has on working families.

Ronald Stein (Ronald.Stein@PTSadvance.com) is the founder and ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure at PTS Advance.